The Shedstore Blog's Gardening To Do List - February

Hello February!

The key tasks for an organised, growing, healthy garden for this month are:

1. Sweep away worm casts

There are many casts that can appear on your lawn: worms, ants and moles can all contribute. Worm casts are soil ejected from the digestive tract of earthworms. They have a fine muddy nature and, if freshly deposited, will also have a coiled appearance. When the casts are dry brush or rake them away. This will prevent patches of soil being created which could allow moss or lawn weeds to take hold.

2. Prune wintering flowering shrubs that have finished

Pruning as soon as the shrub has finished flowering gives new growth the most time to develop. The result is more flowers next year. Remove any damaged, diseased or dead wood. Remove any weak shoots so the plant can put all its energy into the strongest shoots which will produce the best flowers. Keep an eye on crowding at ground level - remove some stems if necessary.

3. Prune wisteria

Wisteria needs to be pruned twice a year: once in late winter and once in midsummer. This encourages more flowers and less woody vines. Your wisteria should now be dormant with minimal foliage. If your wisteria is quite young (1-2yrs), cut back the main stem to 75cm. Untangle stems and cut back by about a third. Train the wisteria by resecuring into the desired shape. If your wisteria is more established, cut back new growth and main branches to just two or three buds. If there is a lot of woody vine, hard pruning may be required. Now is also the ideal time to check the structure supporting the wisteria too.

4. Weed veg beds

Weeds are growing and it’s a great idea to spend a few minutes every day taking them out of your veg beds. In a few weeks, when it comes to sowing and planting, your beds will be relatively weed free leaving seedlings to thrive without competition.

5. Start chitting seed potatoes

Choose certified virus-free seed potatoes and get them started into growth. This is called 'chitting' and all you need are quality seed potatoes, an egg box or two and a frost-free, bright windowsill / greenhouse/ shed. Frost-free is the key. Fith the end with most of the little buds (or 'eyes') and place this facing up in each of the compartments in the egg box. The eyes will start to grow. You are aiming for stubby little shoots (lots of light and as cool as you can without freezing will do the trick). Planting out is much later in spring but you've got to get them growing now.

6. Start gladioli

Start gladioli corms into growth by gently removing the papery tunics surrounding the eyes or buds. Being dry, this tunic flakes away easily. Then place them in wooden trays or empty seed trays in a frost-free spot. It’s the same idea as chitting your spuds - get the first buds swelling and growing, and you know the corms are good and ready to be planted out in the soil in a few weeks.

7. Divide overcrowded snowdrops

If your snowdrops are losing their flowering capacity and looking congested, the best time to split them is as they just go past flowering. Ease the clump out of the soil and gently tease apart into individual plants and smaller clumps. Replant these at the same level in the soil elsewhere in the garden. They will continue to grow and will flower more strongly than the original clump.

8. Lay turf

If it isn’t waterlogged, isn't freezing and frost isn’t forecast, it is a good time to get turf laid. Lots of ‘isn’ts’ in there but it’s worth it. The roots get growing quickly and there will be plenty of spring showers to get everything established before summer. However, the success of lain turf is actually in the soil preparation. Remove stones, weeds, any debris, rake it, rake it again, allow to settle and repeat! Once top dressed with loam, to even out the inevitable lumps and bumps, then top quality turf is the answer. It is a big job but worth it. The alternative is sowing grass seed but that’s for next month.

9. Plant roses

Roses are still dormant and will not notice you knocking them out of their pots and putting into the soil. They are also the perfect gift for your loved one on Valentine's Day (the longevity of a plant always beats the ephemeral nature of cut flowers). Prepare the planting hole by removing any stones, place a banana skin in the base of the hole, dust the roses' roots with mycorrhizal fungi and plant. The banana skin? That rots down and provides a slow release of fertilizer as the rose grows. The mycorrhizal fungi? Don’t get me going - I never plant without it.

10. Deadhead pansies

Pansies have been flowering all over winter and if you nip off the old flower heads (deadheading) they will continue to do so for a couple of months. They should carry throughl into the heart of spring.